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Avoid Gift Card Scams This Holiday Season

Updated: October 24, 2023

The holiday season is quickly approaching which means our inboxes and mailboxes are filled with holiday deals and coupons. According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, 46% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before November. While some love finding gifts for friends and family, many don’t, so they turn to giving gift cards. Lucky for those consumers, the NRF survey also found that gift cards are one of the most popular holiday gifts. Although these are quick & easy gifts to give, they’re also easy ones to steal. Scammers love gift cards because there are plenty of ways to steal funds. They use tactics like exposed PINs, fake activation stickers, and gift card exchange sites to steal gift card funds. 

Check Gift Card PINs

Don’t buy gift cards with exposed/scratched PINS. Scammers go to a store, scratch off the PIN, write it down, and drain the money once it’s activated by a legitimate purchaser.


variety of gift cards at the store
woman activating gift card on her phone

Check Activation Sticker

Make sure to check the activation sticker. Scammers overlay their own sticker on the activation, which links to their own site, making it easy for them to get your gift card information. 

Don’t Make Payments Over the Phone

Don’t make phone payments to someone asking for gift card payments. For example, someone may call claiming to work for the IRS, cellular company, or tech support asking you to pay a bill with gift card funds. According to a Federal Trade Commission report, 38,401 cases of gift card/reload card fraud were reported in 2019.

lady on the phone with card in hand
gift card

Protect Your Gift Card Purchase

Use password protection if you’re sending an online gift card. This requires the receiver to enter a password to gain access to the gift card information. Also, keep a copy of the gift card receipts. This provides proof of the gift card amount and activation.

Don’t Like the Gift Card You Received?

Sometimes, you end up with gift cards that may not suit your tastes. One way to sell or exchange these cards is through an exchange website. Be sure the exchange or reselling site you use will guarantee money back if you’re scammed. Some exchange sites will allow people to send the gift card code and get paid before the site receives the physical card in the mail. Once the balance is confirmed, scammers will spend the gift card balance before the buyer receives the card or code. Raise.com is one site that has a money-back guarantee.

Make sure to read and share these tips with friends and family ahead of Black Friday & Cyber Monday! Happy shopping!

multiple gift boxes




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